First stepping into the spotlight while providing vocals on Chase and Status’ ‘Time’ at the beginning of last year, co-writing with Ben Drew (Plan B) to boot, the immediate frame of reference for Delilah would seem to be Katy B, who had similar attachment to electronic trio Magnetic Man in the early stages of her career. While that UK artist has obvious common ground with those collaborators in her music, Paloma Ayana Stoecker’s debut album is far removed from any notion of standard floor filler style.
Stating that everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to NIN have influenced her to this point in her life, the clipped, echoing percussion of opening track ‘Never Be Another One’ does indeed display a diverse set of styles: the moodier side of trip-hop with her vocals flip-flopping between accusatory and vulnerable, reaching the high notes as easy as when her voice sinks the teeth in – “Why’d you do babe/what you do babe/well your proof babe/is untrue”. Though the mood has changed, her choice of company at the production desk keeps in step with her beginnings. Grammy winner Syience takes the reigns alongside grime duo Balistiq on the majority of tracks with Drew co-writing on ‘Only You’ and ex-Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows writing/producing album standout ‘Love You So’.
Channeling elements of Finlay Quaye’s ‘Even After All’, ‘Love You So’ is joined on the album by a more traditional cover of Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Inside Your Love’ and the Chaka Khan infused ‘Go’. What could be considered lazy re-production only serves to further display her skills as a songwriter, impressing her own stamp on tried and tested classics; they never feel out of place as the ambience she creates around the other artists lyrics help them take on a different, more modern shape. Delilah has slid in under the radar for many. It’s always a pleasant surprise when an album such as From the Roots Up comes along – with maybe a pinch of misplaced presumption as to its style – and levels the listener with its hearfelt lyrics, atmosphere-laden sounds and vocal personality.